Put your hobbies to good use for a ‘greener’ retirement


John F. Wasik

Whether you are planting trees, pulling weeds, counting birds, or starting a community garden, volunteering to “green” your community is a direct and personal way to put environmental values ​​into practice. method.

This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org.

After retiring from teaching at a public high school on Chicago’s South Side in 2002, 77-year-old Jim O’Connor found a new calling as a volunteer for environmental restoration projects.

“I started volunteering when I was teaching in the late 1980s,” says O’Connor. “After retirement, I [herbicide] He obtained a state applicant’s license to apply herbicides on public lands and received prescription burn training at the Department of the Interior before becoming a wilderness firefighter and a certified prescription burn administrator in Illinois. . ”

The number of retirees participating in environmental volunteer work is encouraging. In my conservation community and county, many retirees become dedicated volunteers, doing everything from counting birds to removing invasive plants from their neighborhoods. ” lifestyles and playing a more active role in combating climate change at the hyperlocal level.

When I do the volunteer environmental work I’ve been doing for over 20 years, it’s rare that our group isn’t made up mostly of retirees. The local Forest Conservation Volunteer Coordinator estimates that 40% to 50% of his volunteers are retired. Their “dirty” little secret? My community feels good any time of the year. It is also a direct and personal way to put environmental values ​​into practice.

National numbers are hard to come by, but thousands of retirees contribute to environmental causes. For example, more than 1,200 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers “performed activities to improve, maintain and protect the environment.”

“There are times when I love it,” O’Connor says of his near-daily environmental activity.

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Volunteer for “Green”

As O’Connor finished speaking, as if on cue, a flock of once-endangered migratory sandhill cranes began trumpeting overhead. “Nature always rewards you,” he says of working outside in all kinds of weather.

Volunteering “green” where you live and reducing your carbon footprint is a healthy way to stay active in retirement while contributing to your community and fighting climate change. .

Arguably, reducing waste, driving less, buying an electric car, installing solar panels, and maintaining a garden are good first steps (more on that below), but there’s a deeper commitment to the environment. allows you to do even more.

You can relocate to an environmental retirement community, but you can do a lot of “greening” without moving. Fighting climate change at a hyperlocal level can be a satisfying activity you can do for the rest of your life.

A Cornell University study found that participating in environmental volunteerism has a myriad of benefits. Good for mind, body and soul. More importantly, retiree volunteer organizations enable communities to expand valuable services. As more retirees seek a greener lifestyle, the chances of finding a greener retirement are even greater.

“Community volunteer engagement has been identified as one of the most important solutions to environmental problems,” says an academic study in the Gerontologist, the journal of the American Gerontological Society. “Volunteer involvement is important for activities such as environmental restoration, endangered species protection, scientific environmental data collection, water quality monitoring, and maintaining protected natural areas.”

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Volunteer reward

However, choosing which environmental projects to participate in can be difficult. There are hundreds of local and national environmental groups, each with slightly different missions.A good starting point is to contact your local chapter of an environmental group such as the Sierra Club or check out the Environmental Alliance for Senior Citizens Engagement.

Select the specific task you want to run. Want to plant trees, pull out invasive weeds, count birds, or start a community garden? Focus on your passion and choose what your body can do.

“It’s rewarding to see things improve,” adds O’Connor. “Just in my backyard (the prairie he lovingly restored) I can see dragonflies, damselflies and hummingbirds. I feel like I am giving back in my own little way. increase.”

Read: We are not paying countries enough to save trees from deforestation.Here are the prices that really impact climate change

Creating a Green Retirement: What You Can Do Now

Besides living in an eco-retirement community, there are many lifestyle changes you can make without moving. Here are five key things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

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John F. Wasik is a veteran journalist, speaker, and editorial consultant, author of 20 books, most recently Lincolnnomics: How President Lincoln Built the Great American Economy. doing.

This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org. (c) 2023 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.

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-John F. Wasik

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04-22-23 1149ET

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